UK, Portugal, and Spain Partner on New EO Constellation

Image: Open Cosmos

The UK intends to join Spain, and Portugal to build a new small-sat constellation to improve climate change research and disaster monitoring.

The UK Space Agency announced its plan to participate in the Atlantic Constellation project, an initiative led by the Iberian nations, at the UK Space Conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Tuesday, Nov. 21.

The details: The first phase of the constellation will include four spacecraft—three built by Portugal and one built by the UK-based company, Open Cosmos. The UK Space Agency will contribute £3M ($3.8M) toward the development of the satellite, according to a statement.

When it’s done, the Atlantic Constellation will include 16 satellites fitted with EO and telecommunications payloads, according to an earlier announcement by Spanish aerospace company Elecnor Deimos. The satellites will measure climate change indicators, provide data for precision agriculture and energy use, and improve disaster monitoring.

Who’s who: In addition to Elecnor Deimos, Spanish new space firms Alén Space, DHV Technology, and SATLANTIS are joining the project.

The announcement doesn’t specify when the first batch of satellites will be launched.

“Building a shared satellite constellation is a very effective way of having high revisit diverse data over each region of interest,” Rafael Jorda Siquier, Open Cosmos chief, said in a statement. “The UK joining Portugal and Spain in the Atlantic Constellation is a major step forward in the national Earth Observation strategy and we are very proud that Open Cosmos has been contracted to deliver the first UK pathfinder satellite.

Open Cosmos 101: The satellite company received a £5M ($6.3M) grant from the UK Space Agency’s Space Clusters and Infrastructure Fund that it will use to expand its manufacturing and R&D capabilities to become a bigger player in the microsatellite and constellation space, Open Cosmos announced Wednesday. 

The startup also launched two new birds this month to join its OpenConstellation group of sats. The firm also recently raised a $50M Series B from international investors and has hopes for international growth, according to the statement.

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